We’re nearing the final stretch of this top-10 prospect ranking, and we’ve arrived at another player who had his last season hindered by injury (that really is the story of the whole Flyers organization, huh?).
But Tyson Foerster has continued to flash in even his limited playing time over the last year, and he’s holding well onto his place as one of the most exciting offensive prospects in an organization pretty sorely lacking it.
No. 4: Tyson Foerster
2021-22 League/Team: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), Barrie Colts (OHL)
2021-22 Statistics: 2 G, 1 A, 3 P in 9 GP (AHL), 6 G, 5 A, 11 P in 13 GP (OHL)
Acquired: 2020 (drafted)
How did Foerster’s 2021-22 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?
It was, in a word, a short season for Foerster. He was set to get rolling with his second season in the AHL, and now see what he can do in a league with greater competition, no longer depleted by NHL taxi squads, and he got off to a pretty good start. Three points in those first nine games doesn’t sound world beating in a vacuum, but relatively speaking it was quietly solid, given the context that the team had just one win over those nine games, and was averaging just 1.89 goals per game.
He was in a good position to be a key contributor to that Phantoms team, but that was cut short when, after nine games, he dislocated his shoulder and had to have surgery to repair it. It was a long recovery time, and the team opted to loan him back to his junior team in Barrie for the end of their season to ease back into things, and that seemed to be the right move, because he hit the ground running very well, coming in at close to a point per game in the 13 games he played with them to close out their regular season.
And to cap things off, he was able to earn himself a spot on team Canada for the rescheduled World Juniors, and he was a real force for them as well, putting up six points in seven games on the way to collecting a gold medal. Not too shabby.
All told, we should stay that his stock is steady, given the time that he missed, but what was most promising was how well he was able to rebound from a serious injury. He’s picked up well right where he left off.
What are we expecting from Foerster this season? What should we be looking for from him?
For real this time, Foerster will get a chance to see what he can do in a a more difficult AHL, and this time around, he’ll have a bit more support, as the Phantoms are getting an influx of young talent for this season. It remains to be seen how well the team as a whole is able to put things together, but on paper, the situation should be a bit better.
This is all to say that we’re being a bit cautious about expecting him to be dominant at this level right off the bat, particularly if the team is still figuring things out, but expecting Foerster to at least work his way into an impact role for them. He’s continuing to work to round out his game, but we expect his offense to translate well enough to this level, based on what we’ve seen already. It doesn’t seem completely out of the question that, if all goes well for him (or terribly wrong for the Flyers from an injury standpoint) that he gets a look at the NHL level at some point this season, but the big thing that we’re looking for is just that he continues to settle in at the professional level, and can find a bit more consistency in his game, as things get a bit more difficult.
How does Foerster fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?
The Flyers aren’t exactly flush with potential top-6 forwards in their pipeline, but even so, Foerster really pops among that group. He’s a dynamic player, and the scoring punch that he brings is something that the Flyers were sorely in need of at the time he was drafted, and that need feels even more dramatic as we’re watching this Flyers team average a cool single goal per game through the preseason. For that reason alone, he should be prized and sitting towards the top of the organizational depth chart.
It doesn’t seem that they want to outright rush him into an NHL role—there’s no sense in it anyway, given how rough it’s looking like things are going to be for the Flyers this year—but they’re going to give him a good chance to develop, and as soon as he’s ready, it’s easy to imagine that they find a spot for him.
What do we think Foerster’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?
.As we mentioned above, we can pretty comfortably say that Foerster’s upside is as a top-6 winger, and while he does need some time still to continue developing his game and preparing himself for a full time NHL job, it doesn’t feel like a stretch that he’ll be able to hit that ceiling in the next year or so. And a lot of that has to do with the good work he’s already done—when he was drafted, he was sort of cast as a somewhat one-dimensional player, a guy who scores but is limited in other areas of his game, particularly with regards to his skating. But he’s put in good work to develop his defensive game, the skating is trending in the right direction, and his offensive impacts are still showing well as the competition gets more difficult.
He’s still young and he’s still a work in progress, but the fact that he’s already doing well to round out his game, and without losing any of his offensive effectiveness is a good sign.